How many times a day do you find yourself dreading an upcoming meeting or conference call? We have all seen the many videos and cartoons that parody meetings, client relationships, conference calls, [insert latest video viral topic here], etc. Although some of what I’ve seen and read is funny, and a lot usually rings true, what I do know is that productive meetings certainly don’t have to be extremely long or unpleasant!
Mediabarn’s projects typically start as documented business requirements or simply a collection of back and forth emails and a few sketches. Some may begin as an existing product that needs a complete overhaul. Regardless, what helps make any project take shape is a successful partnership between you (as the UX expert), your team and your client. Keeping in mind that everyone has a different viewpoint, all information at the start of a project should be considered important enough to review. Roles are set and meetings are scheduled in hopes to create the next best site/app/product in your industry. Since communication and collaboration is such a vital part of the project process, it’s essential to look at how you could become better at “meeting.” Here are some tips that could help you make the most out of your meetings, especially in the brainstorming and planning stages.
- Do your homework. Make sure to come to any work session prepared. Although this is applicable for ANY work related meeting, it’s especially important during client brainstorming sessions when both sides should be discussing their thoughts and ideas. It can be frustrating for all parties involved to answer endless amounts of questions that could have been avoided if the person had just read the email or brief provided. There is a difference between clarifying questions versus an “I have no clue why I am here” question.
- You aren’t always right. I am, but you’re not. Kidding. While you may have more experience and insight, all attendees should be able to express ideas and concepts without being shot down. Use your best judgment when offering ideas. Think of your audience (at and away from the table) and the goals of the project and make suggestions that are valuable – not just because you want to hear the sound of your own voice. When others make comments or offer feedback that you disagree with, always take the high road in your responses.
- Be friendly and conversational. This seems simple but you would be surprised… We’re all human. A pleasant tone and chit-chat never hurt any meeting; the absence of it though, could leave the room stale.
- Focus. Whether you’re there to watch a presentation or participate in one, pay attention and show that you’re present. This could include taking notes, nodding your head, and eye contact. Staring out the window or texting on your phone can wait until you’re back at your desk. 😉
- Be available. Last minute meetings can happen. Although nobody expects you to drop everything and run out the door, try to be as flexible as you can, especially when you know that 10 other attendees have already cleared their schedule.
- Dress appropriately. If you know that you’re meeting with a casual client group, jeans won’t be an issue. Somewhere a little more “stuffy”? Dress the part. You can still be stylish, cool and “hip” in pants without holes and a shirt without a hood. Use your best judgment!
While I’m not saying that by following these guidelines every meeting will become a party (don’t we wish!), it may help in making some of the hours spent in meetings a little more rewarding and less painful.